Wide Angle Education

The award sellers

“Dear _____,

Our organisation ____ is an NGO of repute...You will be pleased to know that our organisation honours some successful Indian personalities with the most prestigious ‘_______’ award every year. The past recipients include… (a list of big names). We are pleased to inform you that your name is under consideration for the award. We are proud of your meritorious services and achievements as an educationist. Kindly fill in the form attached and send it along with your curriculum vitae…”

How will teachers react when they receive a message similar to this? Some may be excited and apply for such awards without knowing a hidden agenda behind the message. Almost every month I receive emails of this sort. How have I reacted? I have never been excited but rather irritated when I receive such emails. I either send the emails to the spam folder or become inquisitive and try to know more about the award-giving organisation or group. Why? The intention of the senders is commercialisation and not service, that is, to sell awards to the award-hungry. It is a scam that has been going on for many years. Having known the potential of the market for the award-selling business and having witnessed the hunger of those award maniacs in the field of education, a growing number of organisations/groups are sending emails to teachers and educational institutions now and then to lure them. Some academics and educational institutions fall prey to the influence of the award-sellers and many consider this as an opportunity to adorn their CVs and shell out a huge amount of money to “buy” their awards.

An award is a prize or recognition given to someone in honour of an achievement. It implies that awards should be earned and not bought. Awards are not to be sold. Awards are to be given to those who really deserve them. Alas! The number of awards-selling shops in India is growing these days. Any organisation or group that organises an award-giving ceremony for commercial purposes promotes malpractices and corruption. Both award-buyers and award-sellers are corrupt. They vitiate the quality of education.

Unhealthy trend

Award maniacs are people who have an abnormal obsession with receiving/buying awards. It has become a trend among second-class institutions and individuals to compete in the race to buy such awards. Why do they do so? Teachers who are recipients of various awards are given rewards in the form of increment and promotion. Some educational institutions do not even check the merits of some awards and shower their praise on the faculty who manage to get different awards. In some cases, teachers are pressured to buy such awards when institutions have an eye on accreditation. When educational institutions and teachers receive awards in crooked ways, they do great damage to education.

Some organisations expecting favours from educational institutions come forward to honour them with certain awards. It is an open secret that strings are attached to these awards. These strings-attached awards are given with the you-scratch-my-back-and-I-scratch-yours motive. A month ago, when I congratulated the principal of a school on her bagging an award, she said, “I am not at all excited about this award. When I asked the organiser of the award function why and how I was selected, I was told that it was in recognition of my service to society as an educationist.” When I told the principal that she must be very happy for such a public recognition, she replied, “Only after reaching the venue, I realised there were scores of principals who had also been selected for the awards. Surprisingly, none of the awardees knew which of their achievements were recognised. Everyone was given the ‘Best Principal Award’. It is a publicity stunt.”

Good academics and reputed educational institutions should say “no” to bad awards. What impact do “bad awards” have on education? The best teachers do not win “Best Teacher” awards and the best educational institutions do not bag “Institute of Eminence” awards. Corrupt teachers and educational institutions are glorified as achievers and those who really deserve awards are belittled. This has direct impact on the quality of education.

Glorify excellence

While disapproving of award-mania, I would like to highlight the need for instituting excellence in teaching awards to celebrate good teaching and great teachers. Recently, I watched the 13th edition of Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards which are given for both print and broadcast journalism. The awards recognise the courage and commitment of outstanding journalists from across the country. While watching the awards ceremony online I came to know about the awardees’ contributions to journalism and their achievements. The fact that the winners earned the awards made me admire them. Good teachers wait for good awards. Who will give them? Some well-established reputed educational institutions should institute excellence in teaching awards.

In this context, it is good to remember what actor Paul Newman, who was nominated six times for acting and finally got a win for “The Colour of Money” in 1987, told an Associated Press journalist. When asked why he did not attend the award ceremony, Paul Newman said “It’s like chasing a beautiful woman for 80 years. Finally, she relents, and you say, “I’m terribly sorry. I’m tired.”

The author is an academic, columnist and freelance writer. Email: rayanal@yahoo.co.uk T: @albertprayan

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Printable version | Nov 23, 2021 12:11:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/the-award-sellers/article26036108.ece

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